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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1991 Dec;19(6):659-70.

Somatic complaints in anxious children.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania.


Although stomachaches and headaches are considered characteristic of children with anxiety disorders, there is converging evidence that a broader range of somatic symptoms may be associated with children's expressions of anxiety. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of somatic complaints in anxious children. The results indicated that children with anxiety disorders endorsed the presence of many different somatic complaints, and that contrary to clinical intuition, stomaches and headaches were not among the most commonly reported symptoms. In addition, the anxious children endorsed significantly more somatic complaints when compared to normal controls. Furthermore, the symptom pattern reported by anxious children indicated the presence of both the somatic and cognitive components usually associated with panic attacks, although none of the children met diagnostic criteria for panic disorder. The results are discussed in terms of the contribution of somatic symptoms to the understanding of anxiety disorders in children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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